A legendary cricketer, and a Statesman in the making
By Soli J Sorabjee | Published: 17th November 2013 06:00 AM |
No personality or public figure has generated boundless countrywide and international admiration as has Sachin Tendulkar. The reasons are not his cricketing skills and his brilliant cover drives. It is his utter humility, absence of any pomposity, his child-like nature that has endeared him to millions. My fondness for him is for three reasons. First, he is a fellow Maharashtrian with whom I enjoy talking in Marathi. Second, he like me has been awarded the Order of Australia by the Australian government. And more importantly for the outlook he revealed during my interaction with him at my son Hormazd’s fiftieth birthday dinner party in Bombay before the last Test. I suggested that he should take an active part in the Rajya Sabha where he can contribute in initiating legislation and other measures to rid cricket of the serious malpractices that have infected it. He said he would rather spend his time in the areas around Nasik to help people who are deprived of basis amenities, who are steeped in ignorance and do not have the benefit of even elementary education. So here we have not only a legendary cricketer but a statesman in the making who believes in social justice, the signature tune of our Constitution. Let us thank God for that and pray that the Almighty may bless us with more Sachin Tendulkars.
Supreme Court Hits the Headlines: The Supreme Court has recently delivered path-breaking judgments. One is the judgment in which it ordered AMRI Hospitals and three senior Kolkata doctors to pay compensation of Rs 11.5 crore (Rs 6.08 crore plus 6 per cent interest a year for almost 15 years), which is the highest compensation for medical negligence ordered in India. Prior to its recent judgment, the Supreme Court in 1995 in the case of Indian Medical Association vs VP Shantha ruled that the patient is like a consumer and that a doctor renders ‘service’ and can be proceeded against for ‘deficiency in service’. However, it is important to bear in mind the distinction between bona fide errors of judgment and criminal negligence.
The Supreme Court’s order staying demolition of flats belonging to the Campa Cola Society was remarkable for the alacrity with which it reacted to the suffering of the occupiers. It has asked the Attorney General to suggest a permanent solution to the problem. Critics may call it hyper-activism, but to the victims of the nexus between builders and the officers of the relevant municipal department, it was tremendous relief.
The Supreme Court was also in news because of a complaint of sexual harassment by a lady lawyer who interned with a retired Supreme Court judge, “old enough to be my grandfather”. In view of the gravity of the allegation and its fallout on the institution, the Supreme Court has appointed a three-judge committee comprising Justices Lodha, Dattu and Ranjana Desai to probe into the matter. Not unexpectedly, the guessing game about the errant judge is in full swing in the corridors of the court. The report of the committee is anxiously awaited.
Harsh Political Discourse: There is a marked decline in civility in our political discourse. One appreciates lively pungent debates on issues of concern to the nation. The recent tendency, unfortunately, is to attack political personalities in abusive terms. This does not subserve democracy, especially during election time. It is distressing that even senior political leaders, including Chief Ministers, are not immune from this weakness. Narendra Modi recently took liberties with some historical facts which could have been effectively rebutted without Chief Minister Nitish Kumar harshly calling him a liar. To that, Modi, emulating the famous jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong, could have said, “Nitish, I am not lying. I am just careless with the truth.” Simple and straightforward. Alas, the only thing they have in common with Armstrong is they blow their trumpets loud and hard.
Sorabjee is a former Attorney General of India